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Published: 2013/12/02

Birds of a Feather: Artists Reflect on Phish

Eric Gould (Particle)

They created a world within this world. People felt welcome and inspired; they could really live a happy life within this world. Phish have done so many different things. Everything from covering albums to playing through the night; playing clubs through arenas and theaters of all different sorts. When people go out on Phish tour, they are going on one of the last great American adventures.

On his favorite live Phish memory:

Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center 1995. They did a second set that was basically just “Tweezer.” They weren’t segueing into different songs—it was just “Tweezer” improve the entire time. It wasn’t the most dance friendly music out there, but it really took you on a journey. That’s a big part of what I love about this band. In the middle of all this they went into a “My Generation” jam by The Who. It was really psychedelic in a bluegrass sort of way. It was breaking new ground, taking something that everybody knew and putting a new twist on it. People recognized it, but at the same time it existed on a completely different plane.

Ben Kaufman (Yonder Mountain String Band)

I gave up playing music. My bass guru died and I didn’t want to play it anymore. It sucked. Every time I thought about it, I felt pain. I didn’t want to do it. I went to film school in NYC and realized I didn’t want to do that anymore. Right about that time, I heard of a band called Phish. I felt love in my heart for music again. I don’t know if it was because it felt like there were four dorky guys up there letting it hang out. I don’t know if it was because it appealed to a crafty, technical element too. But there was a joy that I felt from them, and in a joy in my heart. I went, “I want to do this again.” I have to do this again. I quit film school. I moved to Colorado. I started playing music. I met these guys. If I hadn’t heard that band that would not have happened, I’m sure.

James Valentine (Maroon 5)

I saw Phish live for the first time in Lincoln, NE in 1996. It blew my mind. Trey played guitar exactly the way I wanted to, they way he synthesized all of his disparate influences but still had his own clearly definable sound, was amazing to listen to. Within two notes of hearing him play, you know it’s Trey. How many guitarists have that unique of a sound? After seeing them for the first time, I tried hard to emulate his sound, but playing a hollow body guitar with an Ibanez tube screamer. I was one of thousands of the Trey wannabe’s that now litter the jamband scene, a testament to his tremendous influence. In fact, after the first time I saw Kara’s Flowers (which would become Maroon 5 after I joined) I met Adam Levine and asked, “You listen to Trey don’t you?”

Adam Levine (Maroon 5)

Phish made me want to be a better musician, plain and simple. They taught me so much and I will always consider Trey to be one of my heroes. His playing is just so boundary-less and his sound is so unmistakable. Years ago I would just sit in my car and marvel at how four people could be so fucking connected to each other in a way that I can only aspire to be with my band. People are always shocked to find out that I’m so into Phish, which I find strange only because I feel like this band has fought so hard to not alienate anyone who’s wanted to join them. I get it. I get Phish and though I’m sad to seem them go [in 2004], I will always have deep respect and such fond memories of the amazing musical feats they reached, some of them right in front of me.

Keller Williams

Phish are leaving behind a bunch of open-minded kids who will now be looking for different places for their summer travels [when they parted ways in 2004]. Also thousand and thousands and perhaps millions, of memories and life changing experiences that were shared by these beautiful people. They were indeed trailblazers in the scene of improvisational freedom and along their journey have created a sound that has become a genre of its own: for example, “ that sounds like Phish.”

Jamie Masefield (Jazz Mandolin Project)

For a long period of time, when they were just getting started, Phish sounded like a lot of college bands. I remember when they went on their first major tour and came back to Burlington to play the bandstand in Battery Park. When I came down to hear them I noticed a real change in what they sounded like. They had matured and their music was quite powerful. They were going to a new level and I realized their clarity. I remember they played “Oh Kee Pa,” they really impressed me. They took something that could have been really corny and made it really powerful.

As more and more time goes on, we are going to realize that they were a defining sound for the 1990’s. Phish became the sound for a whole generation of people. It’s still amazing that one band can put on a festival for 70,000 people. I remember when they played my dorm, Slade Hall, in 1984. They were very excited about their big gig playing our basement. It took them two or three days to set up for this show, placing a hodgepodge of speakers all over the place. They soundchecked for days.

Adam Herz ( American Pie creator)

At one point or another, every Pie script had a Phish reference in it. But all the noticeable ones fell out during the filming process. But I still listen to Phish all the time.

Al Schnier (moe.)

My favorite Phish memory has to be their afternoon set with the Giant Country Horns at the Arrowhead Ranch in the Catskills during the summer of ’91. It was just one of those perfect hot afternoons in the sun. The band was canking and the horns were over the top.

Harris Wittles ( Parks and Rec )

My first show was September 25, ‘99 in at the Woodlands in Houston. I was literally a fan since that night. It was the most amazing concert experience of my life. It wasn’t even that great of a show but even a regular Phish show especially pre-hiatus is gonna be better than anything else you see. I revisit it pretty frequently, less frequently now especially since Live Phish is available, now so I just listen to shows from the current tour, when I have time to listen to whole shows. But it was great, I remember the moment “Bowie” reshaped my opinion on what music could be


There are 32 comments associated with this post

Frank December 2, 2013, 13:20:50

Jeff Holdswoth WAS A GUITARIST! Jesus Christ

Honey Potter December 2, 2013, 13:29:52

What became of Jeff Holdsworth?.

Bonnie December 2, 2013, 13:37:26

To Ted Nugent. Your descrption of Jerry Garcia is describing your pathetic self. There is a reason why at this point in time you are reduced to playing dive bars.You suck!.

Peachy December 2, 2013, 14:32:04 just threw a serious meatball for anyone who is annoyed by Ted Nugent. Please folks, make me laugh!

the highway terror December 2, 2013, 14:59:52

what the hell, Nugent hasn’t had a hit in 30 +years he has to get everyones attention somehow …...

Shockadow December 2, 2013, 15:11:15

Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?

Shockadow December 2, 2013, 15:13:42

Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?

Dino December 2, 2013, 15:20:02

“Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?” These qoutes were taken over the years and I believe this was after the breakup between 2004-2009.

frankytanky December 2, 2013, 15:22:01

“Many artists have given Relix and their two cents on the Vermont quartet over the years, and we’ve compiled many of those thoughts here today. “

Greatfuldunn December 2, 2013, 15:30:31

“Both Keller Williams & Adam Levine mentioned Phish “going away” or “the end” of Phish…
Is there something we don’t know?”
The Coventry shows in August of ’04 were supposed to be the end of their run. Of course, they have obviously reunited since then. And thank God they didn’t go out on that show! What a muddy mess that was!

Jay December 2, 2013, 16:11:03

I once saw Ted Nugent sit in with Lynyrd Skynyrd from the front row. I am not exactly Carlos Santana when it comes to guitar playing but even I can play Sweet Home Alabama. Sure enough they bring out the Motor City Asshat to join them on one of rock and roll’s most famous anthems. After the first verse the guitar player gives Ted the nod to solo. Within 5 seconds every person in the audience that was not utterly inebriated on sour mash, and even some that were realized that old Ted was soloing in the wrong key. It sounded like someone was taking the cat’s temperature with a curling iron. Ted Nugent criticizing Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing holds about as much weight as a desert Bedouin criticizing the Red Wings power play. Long Live The Phish!

smile December 2, 2013, 16:16:50

ted nugent …child molester

Ron Grady December 2, 2013, 23:59:18

Haha Ted Nugent knows as much about guitar playing as he does about politics fucking idiot!

ZamMan December 3, 2013, 07:02:53

F Ted Nugent. . The last time I saw hin he was playing a water park in Hot Springs, Arkansas and he sucked ass

jerry blows December 3, 2013, 10:00:32

Jerry noodled on the guitar and was a mindless drug addict.

MotorCity December 3, 2013, 14:34:35

The Nuge is still shooting flaming arrows across the stage and Jerry is no more than dust…

Enigmatic Recluse December 3, 2013, 22:20:28

Good to hear from folks around the country that Teddy the Nudge is reduced to playing crap gigs. Here un Detroit he can still get suckers out to the big amphitheater every summer. Teddy may be a sack of shit, but Jerry did coast for two-thirds of his career because he was dumb enough to get hooked on smack.

Goldenblue December 4, 2013, 08:38:42 ought to be ashamed of themselves for even printing such garbage from the mouth of someone who has zero credibility in the jamband world. Hey Relix or where would you even be without Jerry and the Deadheads? NOWHERE so why did you choose to even print what he said in an article about Phish? I think this will be one bookmark that I will delete.

From Europe December 5, 2013, 04:15:00

Finally, someone said the truth: Garcia wasn’t a great musician. Compare him to the great r’r guitarist Jimmy Page Townshend Hendrix Blackmore Clapton ec
Garcia and the Grateful Dead create a sociological attitude around the concerts but musically they were nothing special.

Colonel Angus December 5, 2013, 14:02:14

Love these features! Keep them coming.

Col. Lingus December 5, 2013, 16:26:12

Ted Nugent must have mistook his catalog for Jerry Garcia. I’d be willing to bet Jerry spent more time practicing in one year than Ted has his whole life. It certainly shows when you compare their guitar prowess, or lack thereof in Ted’s case.

Col. Lingus December 5, 2013, 16:28:45

Hey From Europe… are obviously not a musician

Fred December 6, 2013, 10:37:49

“Jerry noodled on the guitar and was a mindless drug addict.” ^ Jer did noodle and was a drug addict. But, “mindless”? have you even listened to him speak for as little as 30 seconds? One of the most articulate, knowledgeable, interesting minds anywhere, then and now.

Relevant December 6, 2013, 17:19:06

From Europe: During one of the stops on the Plant/Page tour in either 88 or 89, a reporter asked Page how it felt to be the “world’s greatest living guitar player”. Page’s answer: “I wouldn’t know. You should aks Garcia.”.

Hippietrip December 6, 2013, 17:19:11

Like my balls Nugent!

dk70 December 7, 2013, 10:36:12

I would love to see how Ted Nugent could solo over the chord changes on Missippi Half Step, Music Never Stopped or even Deal, for that matter. His wanker pentatonic Foghat wanna-be riffs would fall flat after two measures.

finalvinyl60 December 7, 2013, 12:44:42

Ted’s entitled to his opinion, but what I don’t understand about people of his ilk is why is he so angry and mean spirited. Jerry’s music is celebrated by countless numbers of tribute bands and some of the finest symphony orchestras in this country. The only one playing Ted Nugent’s music, is well, Ted Nugent. A hundred years from now people will still be listiening to and playing Jerry’s music. Nugent’s music dies with him.

From Europe December 7, 2013, 14:11:59

It’s not important if you use a penthatonic or mixolydian or arabic or some difficult and strange scales: I personally consider the solo from Since I’ve been loving you (led zeppelin 3) the most expressive solo in r’n‘r history. It’s your theoretic approach. For example, Jimmy Page create this increadible and intricate songs with open chords (listen the rain song).
Just my opinion: Phil Lesh was the only great musician in the Grateful Dead.

Nick December 7, 2013, 15:53:32

Fuck You Ted Nugent!! If u really said that, that is… I mean, WTF do u know about playing guitar anyhow

kye December 7, 2013, 20:11:22

guys/gals Ted is a Douche he said that like 10 years ago too he is a child raping fool who has about 3 decent guitar rifts. he coulda never have written songs that Jer bear did so F him he is now worth the time. He has one city DETROIT! Now there is a city to be proud of. Bankrupt and taking pensions while Jerry lives on even brighter today When TED dies know one will care except for his lil girl of a wife and the NRA.. HEy but he liked on phish lol #clueless

Carlos December 9, 2013, 13:54:56

So who is the bigger douche bag? John Popper or Ted Nugent?

dk70 December 10, 2013, 18:27:29

Jimmy Page is a Rock God, master studio album producer, genius riff meister and songwriter. To compare him to “The Nuge” is well, ya know…..PS..“Since I’ve Been Loving You is Diatonic Minor. Jerry in his prime was arguably the best singer songwriter lead player on Earth 1970-1978.

Steve C August 24, 2015, 14:24:53

I was never a fan of Ted Nugent or his music, and I’m even less of a fan now. Personally, I think the guy was a pretty fair guitarist in his day. His day passed long ago. All that’s left for him now is trying to have sex with his fans’ daughters who have grandad fetishes. However, all that is irrelevant here. If you’re a real artist, you don’t shit on others. You don’t have to. In reality, like Garcia or not, the Grateful Dead songbook is one of the most prodigious and powerful in this history of rock ‘n roll… right up there with The Rolling Stones, Beatles and Bob Dylan’s songbooks. It’s no coincidence that Dylan was a huge fan of both the band and Jerry. Dylan understood the power of the music… it’s deep EMOTIONAL content. I’m sure that the Nooj would have a hard time grasping that. Guys who gloat about having sex with underage women and bow hunt animals with bait (!) are not just tasteless… They’re criminals! Truth be told, Ted Nugent should be in prison. He’s no different than Gary Glitter or Jimmy Saville. A rapist!

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